Crochet Coral Forest

February 12 - April 26, 2015
Southwest School of Art, San Antonio, Texas
Crochet coral reef sculptures on plinths in large gallery

Crochet Coral Forest and Branched Anemone Garden. 

Photo by Todd Johnson, for Southwest School of Art.

During Spring 2015, the Coral Forest was on exhibit at San Antonio’s Southwest School of Art. Comprising six giant sculptures, Coral Forest consists of three works in yarn and three in plastic, metaphorically representing the tension between the organic and anthropogenic in our changing ocean environment.

Each sculpture stands between 8 and 10 feet tall; each a sentinel crafted through thousands of hours of human labor and meticulously assembled from hundreds of crochet pieces. As living reefs are made up from thousands of coral heads— each itself the work of thousands of coral polyps cooperating together—so sculptures in the Crochet Coral Reef are complex ecologies fabricated over years of accumulative labor by communities of people. Where the yarn reefs represent the slow beauty of nature, forged through eons, the plastic reefs reference the increasingly dominant powers of humanity, and the synthetic-saturated future we are bringing into being. Crafted from a wide variety of yarns, along with used plastic shopping bags, video tape, Saran wrap, bits of old hula hoop, cast-off toys, and other plastic detritus, these glittering monsters are constructed by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, and incorporate select pieces from the project’s Core Reef Contributors.

Accompanying the Coral Forest was the Branched Anemone Garden, one of the Wertheim’s very first crocheted reefs. This dioramic installation was inspired by the Great Barrier Reef channeled through the ludic sensibility of Dr. Seuss. Also on display was an array of miniature coral Pod World vitrines, each a tiny coralline landscape featuring pieces by more of the Reefs most skilled contributors.

Core Reef Contributors included in this exhibition:

  • Anna Mayer (CA)
  • Jemima Wyman (CA)
  • Christina Simons (LA)
  • Evelyn Hardin (TX)
  • Helen Bernasconi (Australia)
  • Marianne Midelburg (Australia)
  • Helle Jorgensen (Australia)
  • Barbara Wertheim (Australia)
  • Ildiko Szabo (England)
  • Heather McCarren (CA)
  • Dr. Axt (VT)
  • Anitra Menning (CA)
  • Shari Porter (CA)
  • Clare O’Callaghan (CA)
  • Kathleen Greco (PA)
  • Nadia Severns (NY)
  • Arlene Mintzer (NY)
  • Jill Schrier (NY)
  • Pamela Stiles (NY)
  • Siew Chu Kerk (NY)
  • Irene Lundgaard (Ireland)
  • Orla Breslin (Ireland)
  • Una Morrison (Ireland)
  • Sally Giles (IL)
  • Pate Conaway (IL)
  • David Orozco (CA)
  • Ann Wertheim (Australia)
  • Elizabeth Wertheim (Australia)
  • Katherine Wertheim (Australia)
  • Lucinda Ganderton (UK)
  • Beverly Griffiths (UK)
  • Jane Canby (AZ)
  • Jennifer White (AZ)
  • Sharon Menges (AZ)
  • Tane Clark (AZ)
  • Nancy Youros (AZ)
  • Gina Cacciolo (CA)
  • Chantal Horeau (CA)
  • Ying Wong (CA)
  • and unknown Chinese factory workers.

Pod-World contributors:

  • Sarah Simons (CA)
  • Diana Simons (CA)
  • Vonda N. McIntyre (WA)
  • Sue Von Ohlsen (PA)
  • Rebecca Peapples (MI)
  • Mieko Fukuhara (Japan)
  • Anita Bruce (UK)
  • Gunta Jekabsone (Latvia)
  • Jane Canby (AZ)
  • Dagma Frinta (NY)

Plus wire models from contributors to the Chicago Satellite Reef and Irish Satellite Reef.

Coral Forests: Chthulu and Stheno. With Branched Anemone Garden, from the collection of Lisa Yun Lee.

Photo © Institute For Figuring, 2015.

Coral Forest – Stheno, from the collection of Jorian Polis Schutz.

Photo © Institute For Figuring.
Crochet coral reef sculptures on plinths in large gallery

Coral Forests: Ea and Nin’imma and Medusa.

Photo by Todd Johnson, for Southwest School of Art..